For Valentine’s Day, I thought about making candied orange peel dipped in chocolate. While searching for a recipe, I came across David Lebovitz’s post about bergamot. If you had asked me about bergamot before seeing his post, I would have described an herb. I didn’t know about a citrus fruit bearing the same name.
The bergamot herb I was thinking of, also known as bee balm, has mint-like leaves that can be used to make tea. My mother had a huge patch of bee balm in her flower garden when I was growing up in rural Minnesota. Similarly, bergamot the citrus fruit is used in Earl Grey tea. Even though it resembles a sweet little orange, bergamot has a very distinct scent and a subtle tart flavor.
I found organic bergamot over the weekend at our local farmers’ market, thanks to a friend’s suggestion. He uses bergamot to make flavorful gin and tonics—which I need to try after my French class one of these evenings (have I mentioned I’m the worst in the class?). Not being a citrus expert, what I bought may not be true bergamot (Citrus bergamia). According to Mr. Lebovitz, French bergamot are typically Citrus limetta, and based on the photos I’ve seen, I think that’s likely what I have.
In Switzerland, bergamot oil has historically been used in several traditional food products, such as absinthe and hosenknöpfe, a small button-shaped confectionery. I’ve never seen bergamot oil for sale before, but now I’ll be on the lookout. If you know of where I can find some in Switzerland, please let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep experimenting with the real thing. And my husband just told me about some bergamot IPA from Belgium, which will likely be appearing in our fridge soon.
Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been trying to learn the art of making kugelhopf. These yeasted cakes take some time. Time for the sponge to foam. Time for the dough to rise (twice). Time for the cake to bake and cool. I find them extremely satisfying to make (and eat). So with the bergamot I purchased, I was inspired to make yet another kugelhopf over the weekend, the recipe of which I’m sharing below.
A few things to note about my baking techniques… I don’t use a mixer. My kitchen isn’t big enough to use the big American one I have with our converter. Instead, everything I make is by hand, including the somewhat labor intensive kugelhopf. The soft dough needs to be stirred vigorously. In fact, my Alsation source for kugelhopf advice says you need to sweat a little bit to know for sure the dough is ready. While he uses his hands to work the soft and sticky dough, I use a silicone spatula.
On Monday, my 2-year old and I took our dairy-free cake to our favorite castle for a mid-morning picnic (i.e., second breakfast). It’s hard for me to think of a better way to spend my morning than outside eating cake with my son.
Recipe adapted from swissmilk.
300 grams zophmehl/farine pour tresse*
42 grams fresh yeast
100 ml rice milk
50 grams sugar
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
150 grams dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
1-2 teaspoons bergamot zest (or another citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange)
1 packet of vanilla sugar (7 grams) or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams dried cranberries or raisins
*Please note: If you live outside of Switzerland and can’t find Zopfmehl, you can try making your own. Laughing Lemon recommends a mixture of 15 percent bread flour and 85 percent all-purpose flour.
1. For the sponge, put the flour in a bowl and form a trough in the middle.
2. Place the yeast and rice milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the rice milk and until the yeast has dissolved. It should be slightly warmer than your body temperature. Once it’s dissolved, stir in 50 grams of sugar and pour the mixture into the trough. Mix a little flour in from the sides of the trough until a thick paste forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes until the yeast mixture becomes foamy.
3. Add the remaining ingredients—except the dried fruit—to the dough. Mix the dough vigorously until it becomes smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and become somewhat stringy.
4. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Generously grease a kugelhopf or Bundt pan with dairy-free margarine, and then dust it lightly with flour. (Please note: I have a Nordic Ware kugelhopf pan, but the company has discontinued this model).
6. Add the raisins to the dough and mix them until they’re evenly distributed. Add the dough to the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
7. Place in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving. Best the day its made, kugelhopf also tastes great the second day after the flavors have matured a bit.
No school next week, so I’ll take a break and be back online in March. Thanks so much for your continued support, and bon week-end!